Sony's bid to dominate the music-download industry with its new Walkman is doomed to failure, according to Forbes.

Columnist Arik Hesseldahl says: "If there's any company that should be making Apple break a sweat it's Sony. But Sony's dual nature as a consumer electronics manufacturer and a record company has forced it to walk an impossible path where, in a market that demands maximum openness and flexibility, its obvious need to support music player technology is contradicted by its interest to protect its intellectual property."

Like iTunes, Sony's system restricts users to downloading music from its own online store, Sony Connect. Users must also run existing music files on their PC through Sony's Sonicstage to convert them to Sony's exclusive format, ATRACS3.

It is this strategy that Hesseldahl believes to be "doomed". He says: "Sony's solution is to own every step of the music-consuming process and it has built a walled garden with its brand stamped everywhere. This is likely to be a turnoff to consumers".

"The music business has always been one of universal compatibility. Since the recording industry abandoned the wax cylinder in favour of the 78-revolutions per minute record disc, consumers have always known that music they bought would be universally playable despite the brand of equipment they owned," he observes.

Hesseldahl suggests: "Sony should use its design expertise to build a music player that caters not to all things Sony, but to what consumers really want. Certainly by offering a wide range of players ranging in prices from $60 to $400, Sony gets the concept that not everyone wants to pay $250 to $500 for an iPod. But this walled-garden approach is cutting it off from a potentially lucrative business."